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Book I
Chapter 14

This webpage reproduces a chapter of

Italy and Her Invaders

by
Thomas Hodgkin


2nd edition
Oxford University Press
London, 1892

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
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Book I
Note I

Book 1 (continued)

Vol. I
p702
Chapter XV

Alaric's First Invasion of Italy

Authorities

Sources: —

Claudian and Orosius are here our chief authorities, and even Claudian fails us after the year 404. Zosimus is of hardly any use at all for this period. There are evidences of imperfection in the MS. (at the beginning of Book V cap. 26), but they are not enough to exonerate Zosimus from the charge of extreme negligence or ignorance as to this part of the history. Olympiodorus, who will be more fully described hereafter, gives us a hint or two about Radagaisus.

In the dearth of other materials we begin to find ourselves under considerable obligation to

The Annalists,

of whom it is now time to make some mention.

Five or six men, chiefly ecclesiastics, imposed upon themselves the task of continuing the chronicle which, begun by Eusebius and added to by Jerome, had described in short annalistic style the chief events in the history of the world from the Creation to the death of Valens. Some remarks upon the style and manner of thought of these annalists will be made in a later chapter. It is sufficient to observe here that they seldom give more than six lines to each year, often less, and that a disproportionate amount of that small space is devoted to petty ecclesiastical squabbles. I quote from the useful edition of Roncalli (2 vols. Padua, 1787).

 p703  The chief of the annalists for the period with which we are now engaged are Prosper, Idatius, and Marcellinus. Both because of the intrinsic importance of his work and because of the peculiar and somewhat unsatisfactory condition in which it has been handed down to us, the first-named author must be described in some detail.1

Tiro Prosper, a native of Aquitaine, whose exact birthplace is not known, lived from about 400 to 460. We are not able to state with certainty the year either of his birth or his death. He was apparently a man of good social position. One of the MSS. of his chronicle calls him vir clarissimus, but this is perhaps not to be taken in its strict technical sense, as denoting the third rank in the official Hierarchy of the Empire. Though his reputation among his contemporaries chiefly rested upon his theological works, it is almost certain that he never held even a deacon's rank in the church, but lived and died a layman. He is however known as Saint Prosper.

About the year 429, being then probably in his early manhood, he plunged with extraordinary ardour into the great Pelagian controversy. The controversy was then passing into its second phase, and Augustine on the one hand, and the so‑called Semi-Pelagians of Gaul on the other, were the chief disputants, the former championing the sovereignty of Divine grace, and the latter vindicating the freedom of the human will. Prosper embraced with eagerness the cause of Augustine and opposed the Semi-Pelagian teaching of his fellow-countryman, Cassian of Marseilles, as Cassian had written a series of dialogues (Collationes) in praise of the monastic life, in one of which he had advanced opinions which seemed to be inconsistent with thorough-going Augustinianism. Prosper replied by his Liber Contra Collatorem, in which he vindicated what he maintained to be the catholic teaching concerning grace and free-will. Nor did he confine his energies to prose. In his Carmen de Ingratis he discoursed through one thousand hexameters against the ingratitude and pride of the Semi-Pelagian disputants who thought that any man could dispense with the grace of God; and in his book of Epigrams he expresses in alternate hexameters and pentameters the opinions of Augustine  p704 on such themes as grace and the law, the passions of saints and the world's hatred of Christians. Whatever may be the judgment passed on the prose works of Prosper, his poems cannot be considered successful. A multitude of flat and prosaic lines are to be found in the Carmen de Ingratis, and the Epigrams are epigrams but in name, vapid dilutions of the pathetic eloquence of his mighty master.

It seems probable that about the year 440, Prosper removed to Rome, and there is some reason to think that he entered the service of the great Pope Leo as a notarius. It was currently reported in the succeeding generation that the far‑famed letters of this Pope on the Eutychian controversy really proceeded from the pen of Prosper. However this may be, there can be little doubt that his later years were devoted to the Nestorian-Eutychian discussion on the nature of Christ, as earnestly as his earlier years had been given to the discussion with the Semi-pelagians concerning the nature of Man.

The date of his death is uncertain, but one of his brother-annalists (Marcellinus) mentions his name under the year 463, thus suggesting the possibility that this may have been the year of his death, since there seems no other reason for connecting it specially with his name.

The Chronicon of Prosper was probably first compiled in 433, continued to 445, and again continued to 455. Like almost all the similar productions of Christian annalists, it rests upon the great work of Eusebius (translated and continued by Jerome) in which the Old Testament history is blended and harmonised with the histories of the other nations around the Mediterranean Sea, as told by the classical writers of Greece and Rome. The Eusebius-Jerome Chronicle, beginning with the Creation of the World, ends, as above stated, with the death of Valens (378). The first part of Prosper's Chronicon Integrum goes over exactly the same ground and follows Jerome very closely. The few variations which Prosper has introduced are, for the most part, not improvements, and there is altogether much evidence of haste and inaccuracy in this part of the Chronicon, where little was required beyond the industry of a careful amanuensis.

The second part of the Chronicon (378‑455) occupies a much higher position than the first. Here we have to deal no longer with a mere copyist, but with an independent annalist, with one  p705 who for the last forty years of this period is a contemporary, sometimes our only contemporary authority: with one who whether writing in Gaul or at Rome is near to the theatre of great events, and who, from his position as 'Vir Clarissimus,' the friend and correspondent of Bishops, perhaps the notarius of Popes, had excellent opportunities for becoming acquainted with the true history of the period. Moreover his ecclesiastical interests caused Prosper to note carefully all that concerned the uprising of the great persecuting Arian power, the Vandal monarchy; and his Aquitanian origin induced him to record some events in the South of Gaul (especially the campaigns of Aetius and Litorius against the Visigoths) of which we should otherwise possess scarcely a trace. There is still some reason for complaining of haste and inaccuracy in this part of his work. He assigns a wrong date to the death of Athanaric (382 instead of 381) and he incorrectly attributes it to violence. He also misdates the death of Gratian (384 for 383) and the accession of Constantius the husband of Placidia (420 for 421); and his notices of the Council of Chalcedon (at 450 and 453 not at 451) are misleading, if not actually erroneous. But upon the whole Prosper has shown a fair amount of accuracy and intelligence in compiling the second part of his Chronicon, and whatever his faults may be, the yet greater faults of his few competitors leave him beyond dispute the chief source of historical information for the first half of the Fifth Century.

There are various recensions of Prosper's Chronicle. The most important is the Chronicon Integrum,2 so named by contrast with the Chronicon Vulgatum in which the parts common to Prosper with Eusebius and Jerome are omitted (doubtless because it was published along with the works of those authors) and the last addition, from 445 to 455, also disappears. Except a few interpolations from Orosius, Cassiodorus and others, the text of the Vulgatum (where the two coincide) is practically the same as that of the Integrum.3 The MS. Augustanum4 corresponds very  p706 closely with the Integrum from 379 to 445, but diverges for the period from 445 to 457 with which date it closes, except for a rapid sketch of the Vandal lords of Africa from 440 to 534. Everything about this MS. points to Carthage as its place of origin: but there are also some indications of special familiarity with the affairs of the Roman Church. The MS. Vaticanum is a meagre and inaccurate copy, probably made in the 6th or 7th century, and is chiefly interesting for the grotesque blunders in spelling made by the scribe, which show the changes which were being produced in the Latin language by the barbarian migrations. There is a MS. at Copenhagen (Codex Hafniensis) which contains an important continuation (of course by a much later hand) down to the year 641. It is considered to be the work of an Italian scribe writing under the rule of the Lombards, but it is partly composed of extracts from an authority now lost to us, which German scholars have agreed to call 'the Chronicles of Ravenna,'5 and as reproducing this document, the Codex Hafniensis may be looked upon as in some sort a contemporary authority for the second half of the fifth century. It has been recently edited by Mommsen and published as part of his 'Chronica Minora' in the Monumenta Germaniae Historica.

Another work which goes by the name of Tiro Prosper, though it certainly never proceeded from his pen, is the Chronicon Imperiale, also called (from its first editor) Chronicon Pithoeanum. It is true that it begins and ends with the same words which begin and end the second part of the genuine Prosper's Chronicle. Here however the correspondence ceases. While the Chronicon Integrum and its fellows reckon by the Consular year, the Chronicon Imperiale (as its name denotes) reckons by the years of Emperors. The succession of the Popes and the years of their pontificate which are given by Prosper with nearly complete accuracy are hopelessly entangled by his rival. The two Chronicles deal very often with entirely different sets of facts. The style of the Chronicon Imperiale is quite different from that of the Integrum, and from a literary point of view it is perhaps less contemptible. Gaulish events, especially those relating to the new barbarian monarchies, receive more attention from the author of the Imperiale than from the true Prosper. But it is  p707 chiefly in theological matters that the divergence between the two chronicles is most apparent. Augustine, the hero of the genuine Prosper, is almost sneered at by his double. His early addiction to Manicheism is cast in his teeth; he is said to have 'treated of many subjects in his innumerable books,' and he is accused of having founded the heretical sect of the Predestinarians. On the other hand Cassian, the great antagonist of Prosper, and the little knot of Semi-pelagian ecclesiastics to whom he dedicated the 'Collationes,' are spoken of in terms of almost fulsome praise.

It is certain then that the Chronicon Imperiale does not proceed from Prosper's hand. But unfortunately the scholar of the 17th century, feeling this divergence and wanting to distinguish between the two chroniclers, called the true Prosper by that name and gave his first name, Tiro, to his double. A most misleading and uncritical procedure certainly, but it is now perhaps too late to reverse it. Let it be understood then that whenever 'Tiro' is quoted it is with a protest, as equivalent to 'the pseudo-Prosper,' and that the name is attached to the work of one of whom we only know this much with certainty, that he was not called either Prosper or Tiro.

A special interest, however, for us attaches to this nameless chronicle (which was probably composed in the third quarter of the fifth century) since it contains in the following lines the only contemporary notice of the Teutonic conquest of Britain.

[409]

'Hac tempestate prae valetudine Romanorum vires funditus attenuatae. Britanniae Saxonum incursione devastatae.'

[441]

'Britanniae usque ad hoc tempus variis cladibus eventibusque laceratae in ditionem Saxonum rediguntur.'

It was not till about a century later that the wordy Gildas, our earliest British authority on the subject, told the story of the same conquest in his own peculiar style of querulous declamation.

Idatius, a native of Limica6 in the extreme north of Portugal, was born towards the end of the fourth century. While still a boy ('infantulus') he travelled to Palestine and there saw, with reverence and admiration, Jerome in his cell at Bethlehem.  p708 Having returned to his own country he entered the ecclesiastical state and in or before the year 427 was consecrated Bishop, apparently of Aquae Flaviae, a city about fifty miles from his birthplace. In common with his people he suffered many indignities and hardships under the rule of the Arian Suevi, and in the year 431 went on an embassy to Aetius in Gaul to implore his aid against the oppressors. The journey was perhaps not wholly ineffectual, as Aetius sent Count Censorius as ambassador to the Suevi to accompany Idatius on his return. In the year 460, Idatius, accused by some informers of hostility to the Suevic rule, was taken prisoner in his own church by King Frumarius, the capture being accompanied by much violence towards the Catholics. He was, however, liberated after a captivity of less than four months, to the great disappointment of the informers. He died at an advanced age between 468 and 474.

Like Prosper, Idatius set himself to continue the Chronicle of Jerome, and his continuation reaches from 379 to 468. He himself tells us that the annals from 379 to 427 were chiefly compiled from books; from 427 onwards they were the result of his own observation and especially of his own bitter experience of barbarian oppression and ecclesiastical anarchy. Though not always correct in his chronology, Idatius has set before himself a high standard of historical accuracy, and his notices of events that occurred in Gaul and Spain, of the uneasy tossings of the Suevic, Visigothic, and Vandal nationalities, are especially valuable.

Marcellinus Comes7 is in no sense a contemporary authority, as he flourished under Justinian, and is therefore separated by an interval of more than a century from the period now under consideration. But he had access to trustworthy authorities, and his continuation of Jerome's chronicle from 379 to 534 (continued by a later hand to 566) is one of our main authorities for the history of the fifth century. He avowedly deals chiefly with the Eastern Empire,8 but occasionally throws some light on Western affairs. His very silence is sometimes interesting,  p709 as showing of what slight account transactions which we perceive to have been of incalculable importance to Europe appeared to a Byzantine official.

400 The end of the fourth century. The year of gold, which was honoured by Stilicho's Consulship, and which, according to our computation, closed the century that had witnessed the foundation of Constantinople and the marriage between Christianity and the Empire, saw also Alaric's first invasion of Italy. The details of this inroad are supplied to us with a most sparing hand by the few historians who mention it, and even their meagre facts are not easy to reconcile with one another. The discussion of some of these difficulties is postponed to the note at the end of this chapter. In the meantime the following narrative is submitted to the reader as upon the whole the most probable that can be constructed out of the varying accounts of the authorities; but there is scarcely an event in it which can be stated with certainty, except the battle of Pollentia, and even that, as to its date, its cause, and its issue, is involved in perplexity and contradiction.

Alaric enters Italy with an army and a nation. In the course of the year 400 Alaric descended into Italy with an army, which, as was so often the case in the campaigns of the barbarians, was not merely an army but a nation. Determined not to return to Illyria, but to obtain, by force or persuasion, a settlement for his people on the Italian soil, he brought with him his wife and children, the families of his warriors, all the spoil which he had taken in Greece, all the treasures which he had accumulated during his rule in Eastern Illyricum. He marched from Belgrade up the valley of the Save by Laybachº and the well-remembered pass of the Pear- p710 Tree.9 This road, the one by which most of the great invasions of Italy in the fifth century were made, presents, as has been before remarked, nothing of truly Alpine difficulty. It is mountainous; it would furnish to an active general many opportunities for harassing such an army as that of Alaric, encumbered with women and waggons, but there is no feature of natural difficulty about it which our own Wales or Cumberland could not equal or surpass.

He passes Aquileia. Precisely, however, because of the comparatively defenceless character of this part of the Italian frontier, the wise forethought of Senate and Emperors had planted in this corner of the Venetian plain the great colony, port and arsenal of Aquileia, whose towers were visible to the soldiers of Alaric's army as they wound round the last spurs of the Julian Alps, descending into the valley of the Isonzo. Aquileia was still the Virgin-fortress, the Metz of Imperial Italy, and not even Alaric was to rob her of her impregnable glory. A battle took place under her walls,10 in which the Romans suffered a disastrous defeat; but the city — we may say with almost absolute certainty — did not surrender.  p711 Remembering, it may be, Fridigern's exclamation that 'he did not make war upon stone walls,' 400‑401 Alaric moved forward through Venetia. and Ravenna. Across his road to Rome lay the strong city of Ravenna, guarded by a labyrinth of waters. He penetrated as far as the bridge, afterwards called the bridge of Candidianus, within three miles of the city,11 but he eventually retired from the untaken stronghold, and abandoning, it would seem for the present, his designs on Rome, marched westward towards Milan.

Radagaisus co‑operates, possibly in Rhaetia. These operations may perhaps have occupied Alaric from the summer of 400 to that of 401. His progress seems slow and his movements uncertain, but some of the delay may be accounted for by the fact that he was acting in concert with another invader.12 This was 'Radagaisus the Goth,' a man as to whose nationality something will have to be said when, five years later, he conducts an army into the heart of Italy on his own sole account. For the present all that can be said is that he entered Italy in concert with Alaric in the year 400, and that during that and the following year we have mysterious allusions from the pen of Claudian to some great troubles going on in Rhaetia (Tyrol and the Grisons), which province now formed part of Italy. As these troubles were sufficient to keep a large part of  p712 the Roman troops employed, and to require the presence of Stilicho at a time when even the Emperor's sacred person was in danger, it is at least a permissible conjecture that they were due to the invasion of Radagaisus, who was operating from the North, and trying to descend into Italy by the Brenner or the Splügen Pass, while Alaric was carrying on the campaign in the East, and endeavouring to reduce the fortresses of Venetia.13

Counter-movements of Honorius and Stilicho. The movements of Honorius and Stilicho, the nominal and the real rulers of Italy, in response to this invasion, cannot be described with certainty. It would seem that the Rhaetian attack was the one which, at any rate during the first two campaigns, claimed the largest share of Stilicho's attention. If we could place entire dependence on the dates of the laws in the Theodosian Code (which profess to indicate the residence of the Emperor on the day of the promulgation of each enactment), we should say that Honorius spent the greater part of the years 400, 401, and 402 at Milan, that in the spring and autumn of 400 he made two journeys to Aquileia and Ravenna, and that before December of 402 he had taken up his residence at Ravenna, which place was his home for the remainder of his life. Unfortunately these laws have not been edited with sufficient accuracy to allow us to quote these dates with absolute confidence, but there is nothing in them which is at variance with the view here put forward of the progress of Alaric's campaign. After several months had been consumed by the Visigoth in his  p713 operations before Aquileia and Ravenna he advanced, in the year 401, up the valley of the Po, and besieged Honorius either in Milan or possibly in the strong city of Asti14 (Asta in Piedmont).

Effect of Alaric's invasion on the minds of the Italians. Throughout the Roman world the consternation was extreme when it was known that the Goths, in overwhelming numbers, were indeed in Italy. A rumour like that of the fall of Sebastopol after the battle of the Alma, born none knew where, propagated none knew how, travelled fast over Britain, Gaul, and Spain, to the effect that the daring attempt of Alaric had already succeeded, that the City of Rome was even now his prey.

Gloomy auguries. Claudian draws, in his murkiest colours, a picture of the gloom which prevailed at the Imperial Court.15 Supernatural terrors deepened the darkness of a prospect dreary enough to political prescience. There were dismal dreams, whisperings of sinister prophecies in the Sibylline roll, eclipses of the moon, great hailstorms, untimely swarms of bees, and, worse than these, a comet, which first appeared in Cepheus and Cassiopeia, and then travelled on into the Seven Stars of Charles's Wain, too plainly foreboding danger from the Gothic waggon. But the worst portent was that of the two  p714 wolves. Starting up under the very eyes of the Emperor while he was reviewing some squadrons of cavalry, they attacked the soldiers, who slew them with their darts. Strange to tell, inside of each was found a human hand, one right, one left, with clenched fingers, and still ruddy as if in life. The she‑wolf being the emblem of Rome, how could the Fates more clearly indicate that her power was endangered, and that both in the East and West she was to suffer some grievous amputation?

Cowardly suggestions. Already the Italian nobles, the Emperor apparently consenting, were deliberating whether they should take to their ships, should flee to Corsica or Sardinia, or should plant a new Rome on the banks of the Saone or the Rhone. Stilicho alone, says the panegyrist, stood unterrified, and prophesied the salvation which he himself was to achieve. 'Cease your unmanly lamentations, your foolish forebodings,' he adjured the courtiers. 'The Goths have, it is true, perfidiously stolen into our country while our troops were busy in Rhaetia. But Italy has borne and overborne worse shocks of fate than this — the Gallic inroads, the irruptions of the Cimbri and Teutones. And if Latium were to fall, if you did basely abandon your mother-land to the northern hosts, how long, think you, would you be left in safety beside the streams of Gaul? No; tarry here in Italy through the winter, while the flooded rivers of Lombardy delay the march of Alaric. I will go to the North to collect an army from the garrisons yonder, and will return, after a short delay, to vindicate the insulted majesty of Rome. And think not, my fellow-citizens, that I shall not share your anxieties, for, though absent myself, I leave in your midst my wife,  p715 my children, and that son-in‑law who is dearer to me than life.'

Stilicho's winter-campaign in Rhaetia. So saying, he departed. He sailed in a little skiff up the olive-bordered Lake of Como. Then in the depth of winter (the winter of 401‑2), he directed his course towards the province of Rhaetia,

'that province which gives birth to two rivers, the Danube and the Rhine, each of which serves as a bulwark to the realm of Romulus. But that side of Rhaetia which is turned towards Italy raises its peaks and ridges high towards the stars, and its passes, even in summer, are perilous for the traveller. Many in that terrible frost, as if at the sight of a Gorgon, have stiffened into stone: many have been whelmed in fathomless abysses, the waggons, the oxen which drew them, and the drivers being all sucked at once into the sparkling gulf. Often, under the south-wind's treacherous breath, the whole mountain seems to be loosed from its icy fetters, and rushes in ruin on the traveller's head.'

'Through scenes like these, in winter's thickest snow

Upon his dauntless course, pressed Stilicho.

No genial juice to Bacchus there is born,

And Ceres reaps a niggard store of corn.º

But he, — his armour never laid aside —

Tasted the hurried meal, well satisfied;

And, still encumbered with his dripping vest,

Into his frozen steed the rowel pressed.

On no soft couch his wearied members lay,

But when dark night cut short his arduous way

He sought such shelter as some wild beast's cave,

Or mountain-shepherd's hut to slumber gave,

The shield his only pillow. Pale with fear

Surveyed his mighty guest the mountaineer.

And the rude housewife bade her squalid race

Gaze on the unknown stranger's glorious face.

Those couches hard the horrent woods below,

Those slumbers under canopies of snow,

 p716 

Those wakeful toils of his, that ceaseless care

Gave to the world this respite, did prepare

For us unhoped‑for rest. From dreadful doom

He, in those Alpine huts, redeemed thee, Rome.'16

In the course of this Rhaetian campaign, Stilicho seems to have effectually repelled the invading hosts, who, according to the view here maintained, under the leadership of Radagaisus, were threatening Italy from the North. He not only pushed them back into their settlements by the Danube, Troops raised for the defence of Italy, but he also raised, in these trans-Alpine provinces and among these half-rebellious tribes, an army sufficient in numbers for its work, but not so great as to be burdensome to Italy or formidable to its ruler. 'The troops which had lately defended Rhaetia came, loaded with spoil, to the rescue of Italy.' and withdrawn from the Provinces. At the same time the legions were withdrawn from other countries to shelter Rome. The Rhine was left bare of Roman troops, and the Twentieth Legion, one of three which had for centuries been stationed in Britain, generally at Chester, was now removed finally from service in this island.17

 p717  The Roman and Gothic armies meet at Pollentia. The clouds which have gathered round the movements of both the rival chiefs are at length partially lifted, and we find them face to face with one another at Pollentia during the season of Easter 402. About twenty miles south-east of Turin, on the left bank of the Tanaro, in the great alluvial plain which is here Piedmont, but a little further east will be Lombardy, still stands the little village of Pollenzo, which by its ruined theatre and amphitheatre yet shows traces of the days when it was a flourishing Roman municipality, renowned for its manufactures of dark woolen cloth and of earthenware. This was the place which Alaric and his Goths were now besieging.18

Sieges, as we have seen abundantly in the course of this history, were generally unfortunate for the Northern warriors, whose inroads were, as a rule, most successful when they pushed boldly on through the fertile country, neglecting the fortresses, and despising the troops that garrisoned them. It may be that already a doubt of the prosperous issue of the invasion had dawned upon some of the Gothic veterans, and  p718 that some such divided counsels as Claudian describes in the following sketch existed in the camp.

A Gothic Council.
De Bello Getico, 480‑557.
'The long-haired fathers of the Gothic nation, their fur‑clad senators marked with many an honourable scar, assembled. The old men leaned on their tall clubs instead of staves. One of the most venerable of these veterans arose, fixed his eyes upon the ground, shook his white and shaggy locks and spoke:

Speech of the Leader of the Opposition. ' "Thirty years have now elapsed since first we crossed the Danube and confronted the might of Rome. But never, believe me, O Alaric, did the weight of adverse battle lie so heavy on us as now. Trust the old chief who, like a father, once dandled thee in his arms, who gave thee thy first tiny quiver. Often have I, in vain, admonished thee to keep thy treaty with Rome, and remain safely within the limits of the Eastern realm. But now, at any rate while thou still art able, return, flee the Italian soil. Why talk to us perpetually of the fruitful vines of Etruria, of the Tiber, and of Rome. If our fathers have told us aright, that city is protected by the Immortal Gods, lightnings are darted from afar against the presumptuous invader, and fires heaven-kindled flit before its walls. And if thou carest not for Jupiter, yet beware of Stilicho, of him who heaped high the bones of our people upon the hills of Arcadia, him who would then have blotted out thy name had not domestic treason and the intrigues of Constantinople rescued thee from his grasp."

Alaric's reply. 'Alaric burst in upon the old man's speech with fiery brow and scowling eyes —

' " If age had not bereft thee of reason, old dotard, I would punish thee for these insults. Shall I, who  p719 have put so many Emperors to flight, listen to thee, prating of peace. No, in this land I will reign as conqueror, or be buried after defeat. The Alps having been traversed, the Po being witness of our victories, only Rome remains to be overcome. In the day of our weakness and calamity, when we had not a weapon in our hands, we were terrible to our foes. Now that I have made the reluctant Illyrian forge for us a whole arsenal of arms, we are not going, I presume, to turn our backs to these same enemies. No! Beside all other reasons for hope there is the certainty of God's19 help. No dreams, no flight of birds revealed it to me. Forth from the grove came a clear voice, heard of many, 'Break off all delays, Alaric. This very year, if thou lingerest not, thou shalt pierce through the Alps into Italy; thou shalt penetrate to the City itself.' "

Penetrabis ad Urbem. 'So he spoke, and drew up his army for the battle. Oh ever-malignant ambiguity of oracles, so dark even to the utterers, so clear to them and to their hearers when the event has made them plain! At the extreme verge of Liguria he came to a river, known by the strange name of Urbis,20 and there defeated, recognised his doom.'

The reader is requested to observe that we have here  p720 an undoubted case of a fulfilled presentiment. Six years after the composition of this poem, Alaric did in truth 'penetrate to the City.' Now the hostile poet taunts him with his belief that he was called thither by Destiny, and triumphs over the apparent ruin of his hopes.

Alaric attacked in the midst of his devotions on Good Friday, 6th April, 402. Claudian's verses pourtray the Gothic chieftain, after this council, drawing up his army in battle array at Pollentia. It seems certain, however, that Alaric was taken unawares and forced into a battle which he had not foreseen; and this from a cause which illustrates the strange reactions of the barbaric and civilised influences upon one another in this commencing chaos. As was before said, Eastertide was at hand: on the 6th of April, Easter Sunday itself occurred.21 Alaric, with his army, Christian though Arian, was keeping the day with the accustomed religious observations, Battle commenced by Saulus. when he was attacked and forced to fight by Stilicho's lieutenant, Saulus.22 This man, the same who fought under Theodosius at the battle of the Frigidus, was by birth an Alan, and was probably surrounded by many of his countrymen, that race of utter savages who once dwelt between the Volga and the Don, and arrested the progress of the Huns, but had now yielded to their uncouth conquerors and rolled on with them over Europe, as fierce and heathenish as they. The pigmy body of Saulus was linked to a dauntless spirit;  p721 every limb was covered with the scars of battle, his face had been flattened by many a club stroke, and his little dark Tartar eyes glowed with angry fire. He knew that suspicions had been entertained of his loyalty to the Empire, and he burned to prove their falsity. Having forced Alaric and his warriors to suspend their Paschal devotions, he dashed his cavalry with Hun‑like impetuosity against their stately line of battle. At the first onset he fell, and his riderless horse, rushing through the ranks, carried dismay into the hearts of his followers. The light cavalry on the wings were like to have fled in disastrous rout, when Stilicho moved forward the steady foot-soldiers of the legions from the centre, and turned, says Claudian, defeat into victory. The Gothic rout (if we may trust Claudian's story of the battle) soon became a disastrous flight. The Roman soldiers, eager for revenge, were scarce diverted from their purpose by the rich stores of plunder which were thrown in their way by the despairing fugitives. On the capacious Gothic waggons were heaped piles of gold and silver coin, massive bowls from Argos, statues instinct, as it seemed, with life, snatched from burning Corinth. Every the first of the barbarian but added fury to the Roman pursuit, reviving as it did the bitter memories of Roman humiliation; and this fury reached its height when, amid a store of other splendid apparel, the purple garments of the murdered Valens were drawn forth to light. Crowds of captives who had followed the chariot of the Gothic king for years now received their freedom, and, revisiting their long deserted homes, looked with wonder on the changes wrought there by Time. On the other hand,  p722 Alaric, hurrying from the field, heard with anguish the cries of his wife, his wife whose proud spirit had urged him on to the conflict, who had declared that she was weary of Grecian trinkets and Grecian slaves, and that he must provide her with Italian necklaces and with the haughty ladies of Rome for her handmaidens, but who was now herself carried into captivity with her children and the wives of her sons.23

Was Pollentia a Roman victory? After the vivid and circumstantial account which Claudian gives us of the Roman victory at Pollentia, it is almost humiliating to be obliged to mention that there is some doubt whether it was a Roman victory at all. Cassiodorus and Jordanes both say distinctly that the Goths put the Roman army to flight. Both of these authors, however, are in the Gothic interest, and the earliest of them wrote at least a century after the date of the battle. Orosius, a Roman and a contemporary, speaks of the unfortunate battles waged near Pollentia, in which 'we conquered in fighting, in conquering we were defeated.' It is possible that this alludes to the fact that the Romans attacked on Good  p723 Friday, an impiety which the ecclesiastical historian cannot forgive. The subsequent course of the history seems to show that the bulk of the Gothic army remained intact, and that its spirit was not broken. On the other hand, the language of Claudian (confirmed by his contemporary Prudentius) seems to make it incredible that the Romans can have been really and signally defeated. Probably it was one of those bloody but indecisive combats, like Borodino and Leipzig, in which he who is technically the victor is saved but as by a hair's breadth from defeat, a result which is not surprising when we remember that here the numbers and impetuosity of the Goths were met, for the first time on Italian soil, by the courageous skill of Stilicho. Then, after such a battle, however slight might be the disadvantage of the Goths, the long train of their wives and children, their captives and their spoils would tell heavily against them in retreat; and though we may doubt the captivity of the wife of Alaric and the recovery of the purple robe of Valens, we may well believe that a large share of the Gothic booty did fall into the hands of the Imperial soldiers.

Retreat of Alaric. That the battle of Pollentia was no crushing defeat for the Goths seems sufficiently proved by the events which immediately followed it. Stilicho concluded a treaty of some kind with Alaric, perhaps restored to him his wife and children,24 and the Gothic king recrossing the Po commenced a leisurely retreat through Lombardy.25 Battle of Verona. Having arrived at Verona, and committed  p724 some act which was interpreted as a breach of the treaty, he there, according to Claudian, sustained another severe defeat; but this engagement is not mentioned by any other writer. The poet tells us that, had it not been for the too headlong zeal of the Alan auxiliaries, Alaric himself would have been taken. As it was, however, he succeeded in repassing the Alps, with what proportion of his forces we are quite unable to determine. Claudian, who is our only authority for this part of the history, gives us no accurate details, only pages of declamation about the crushed spirits of the Gothic host, the despair of their leader, and his deep regret at ever having allowed himself to be cajoled away from the nearer neighbourhood of Rome by his fatal treaty with Stilicho. Policy of Stilicho towards Alaric. Reading between the lines, we can see that all this declamation is but a laboured defence of Stilicho's conduct in making a bridge of gold for a retreating foe. That much and angry criticism was excited by this and some similar passages of the great minister's career is evidenced by the words of the contemporary historian Orosius (immediately following the mention of Stilicho's name), 'I will not speak of King Alaric with his Goths, often defeated, often hemmed in, and always allowed to escape.'26 Probably, however, the criticisms were unjust. Stilicho had a weapon of uncertain temper to wield, legionaries enervated and undisciplined, barbarian auxiliaries, some of whom might sympathise with their northern brethren if they saw them too hardly pressed. It was by skill of fence rather than by mad clashing of sword against sword that the game was to be won,  p725 and it would have been poor policy to have driven the Visigothic army to bay, and to have let them discover

'What reinforcements they might gain from hope;

If not, what resolution from despair.'

Effect on the minds of the Italians of the operations of Alaric. At the end of this first great campaign of the barbarians in Italy we naturally ask ourselves what were the feelings of the inhabitants of Italy and of Rome when they found the traditional impregnability of their country to 'aught but Romans' so rudely disproved. How deep in those Imperial centuries might be the repose of Roman provincial life we infer from the epistles of the younger Pliny, and even from an early poem by Claudian himself as to a district which was ravaged in this very campaign. It is strange to turn from the description of the battle of Verona to De Sene Veronensi. these lines in which the poet dilates on the felicity of an old man who has spent all his days on his farm not far from that city.

'Happy this man, whose life has flowed away

In that old home whose past he knows so well;

Through the same fields, staff-propt, he takes his way

Where, as a boy, he leapt and laughed and fell.

Him Fortune drags not in her weary whirl,

Nor drinks he, wandering, from un‑homish streams;

He sees no banners flaunt, no white waves curl,

No wrangling law‑suit haunts his peaceful dreams.

Strange to the town and heedless of the great,

He loves his own street-unencumbered sky.

For him no Consul's name denotes the date;

By flowers and harvests marked, his years slip by.

Above his lands he sees the sunrise red,

Above his lands the sunset's fading gold.

His hand once held the oak that shades his head;

He and his woods together have grown old.

 p726  Verona seems far off as farthest Ind,

And Garda's lake as is the Red Sea's strand.

His massive muscles still strong sinews bind

Though his sons' sons full grown before him stand.

Go, thou who yearnest still for foreign air;

Go, see who dwell by Spain's remotest stream;

Thou of earth's highways hast the largest share,

But he of living has the joy supreme.'27

When Alaric's troops were swarming round Verona, whether in the insolence of victory or in the rage of defeat, it would be too much to hope that this picture of lethargic and simple happiness was not in some degree marred by their presence. Effect on the citizens of Rome. At Rome the first news that the barbarians were south of the Alps filled all ranks with terror. Stilicho dissuaded them from flight, promised to collect troops for their deliverance, and induced them to assume an appearance of courage even if they did not feel it. He then departed for the northern campaign. Meantime they set to work vigorously to rebuild the walls of the city. During the prosperous days of the Republic and Empire Rome had needed no walls.28 When the clouds of barbaric invasion in the third century were gathering around her, Aurelian, the undoubted hero of that evil time, had surrounded her with fortifications. These were at this time renewed; and to this day the walls of Honorius are a frequent subject of discussion in the long debates of Roman archaeologists.

While thus engaged, the citizens often looked forth with dread over the plain, and up to the cloudless sky,  p727 with a superstitious fear lest Heaven itself was fighting against them. Each river that crossed the Lombard plain was one barrier the more against the dreaded Alaric; but where were the storms of winter that should have swollen the brooks into streams and the streams into rivers? Day after day passed by, and still the rain came not, and surely the Goth would come.29 Stilicho's return. At length the watchmen on the loftiest towers saw a cloud of dust rolling up from the horizon. Was it raised by the feet of enemies or of friends? The silence of a terrible suspense reigned in every heart, till

'Forth from the dusty whirlwind, like a star,

Shone forth the helm of Stilicho from far,

And that white head, well known, well loved of all;

Then sudden thrilled along the crowded wall

The cry "He comes, himself," and through the gate

The glad crowd pressed, to view his armèd state.'30

Triumph of Honorius over the Goths celebrated at Rome, 404. This visit, if not a mere poetical imagination, must have occurred before the battle of Pollentia. After the close of the campaign, and when Italy was again cleared of her invaders, the gladness of delivered Rome seemed to claim a more conspicuous expression. To the year 404 the Emperor deigned to affix his name as 'Consul for the sixth time'; and he and his father-in‑law appear to have visited Rome to celebrate a triumph over the Goths.31 Strange to say, during the whole preceding century, Rome had only four times seen an  p728 Emperor within her walls, Constantine (312) after his victory over Maxentius, Constantius (357) four years after the overthrow of Magnentius, and Theodosius (389) after his defeat of Maximus, and again (394) after his defeat of Eugenius.

The Romans might naturally contrast the doubtful joy of these victories over their fellow-countrymen with the unalloyed delight of their recent deliverance from the barbarians. De VI Consulatu Honorii, 547‑562. The young men rejoiced to welcome an Emperor their equal in years; the old saw with pleasure that he did not, like his predecessors, make the Senators walk, as slaves, before his chariot. They said, 'Other Emperors came like masters, this one like a citizen.' By the side of Maria the Empress, stood her brother Eucherius, wearing no insignia of exalted rank (for Stilicho was chary of honours for his son), but giving the homage of a soldier to his chief.

'Then the matrons admired the fresh-glowing cheeks of Honorius, his hair bound with the diadem, his limbs clothed with the jewelled trabea (consular robe), his strong shoulders, his neck, which might vie with that of Bacchus, rising from amid Arabian emeralds.

Lines 578‑583. 'Stilicho himself, borne along in the same car with the son of Theodosius, felt with proud satisfaction that he had now indeed fulfilled the trust reposed in him by the dying father.'

Among other amusements with which the citizens of Rome were regaled with on this occasion, Last exhibition of gladiators. a venerable tradition places the last and the most memorable of the gladiatorial combats.32 Prohibited as these exhibitions had  p729 been by an edict of Constantine, they still held their ground in half heathen Rome. A butchery, doubtless of unusual magnificence, was to celebrate the defeat of Alaric. Probably some of the captive Visigoths themselves were to minister to the brutal enjoyment of those who had so lately quailed before their very names. Already the lists were set, the combats commenced, the first blood had been drawn. The eager 'habet,' 'habet,' was resounding from imperial, senatorial, and proletariat benches, when an eastern monk, Telemachus by name, was seen stalking down from seat to seat of the crowded Colosseum, till at length he reached the arena. Astonishment held the spectators mute till his strange purpose was made manifest. He was thrusting himself in between the gladiators, and endeavouring at the risk of his own life to part the combatants. Then uprose a cry of execration from podium to gallery, and missiles of every sort were hurled down upon the audacious disturber of the bloody game. He died: in his death, most Christ-like, he did in truth 'give his life for the flock;' and not in vain, for Honorius, moved to awe and pity by the strange scene which he had witnessed, not only recognised him as saint and martyr, but for his sake decided that shows of gladiators should be, not in name only, but in deed, abolished.

We part company with Claudian. With this visit of Honorius and Stilicho to Rome ends our companionship with Claudian, whose verses,  p730 whatever their defects, have shed over the last eventful nine years a light which we shall grievously miss in those that are to come. Uncertainty as to the end of his career. He tells us himself33 that after his poem on the Gildonic war, a brazen statue had been erected in his honour, and dedicated by some personage of patrician dignity.34 From a letter addressed by him to Serena, we find that the good offices of that powerful patroness had enabled him to win the hand of an African lady, whom we may safely presume to have been an heiress. The wedding was celebrated in her country, and, as we have no certain information, we may conjecture that he did not return to Italy, and that the divine Honorius, Stilicho, Alaric, and even Rome herself were wellnigh forgotten in the society of his Libyan wife and the administration of her estate. At any rate, from this time forward, his Muse no longer gives life and colour to the historical picture. The dry bones of the annalists, the disjointed paragraphs of Zosimus and ecclesiastical historians are our only materials for the subsequent history of the Visigothic invasion.35

 p731  Invasion of Radagaisus. The following year witnessed the second consulship of Stilicho, and another great inroad of barbarians, which comes as a mysterious interlude in the great duel between Alaric and Rome. Alaric was not the leader in this new invasion; he was at this time, according to one36 authority, quartered in Epirus, and concerting measures with Stilicho for a joint attack on the Eastern Empire. The new invasion was headed by the wild figure of Radagaisus, a Goth,37 but not of Alaric's following, though formerly his confederate; possibly one of the Ostrogoths, who had remained in their old home by the Euxine when the tide of Hunnish invasion rolled over them. This man, 'far the most savage of all past or present enemies of Rome,'38 was known to be fanatically devoted to the false deities of his heathen ancestors; and as the tidings came that he, with his 200,000, or some said 400,000, followers, had crossed the Alps, and was vowing to satiate his fierce  p732 gods with blood of all who bore the Roman name, a terrible despair seized all the fair cities of Italy; and Rome, herself, on the very verge of ruin, was stirred with strange questionings. Nowhere did the spirit of the ancient paganism linger so stubbornly as in the neglected city by the Tiber; and now from the apparently imminent danger of the Eternal City, the many to whom the name of Christ was hateful drew courage to utter their doubts aloud. 'These men, the barbarians, have gods in whom they believe, strange and uncouth deities it is true, but yet gods represented in visible form to whom they offer bloody sacrifices. We have renounced the protection of our ancestral divinities, we have allowed the Christians, who are in truth Atheists,39 to destroy every other religion in their fanatic zeal for the crucified Galilean; what marvel if we perish, being thrust, thus destitute of all supernatural aid, into collision with the wild yet mighty deities of Germany?'40

Radagaisus shut up among the hills of Tuscany, However, Rome's hour of doom had not yet come. The fierce barbarian horde, instead of marching along the Lombard plain to Rimini, and thence by the comparatively easy Flaminian Way to Rome, chose the nearer but difficult route across the Tuscan Apennines. Stilicho marched against them, it is said with thirty legions,41 and succeeded in hemming them in, in the rugged hill country, where, owing to the shortness of provisions, their very numbers were their ruin. Powerfully  p733 supported by Uldin, the chief of the Huns, and by Sarus, who commanded other Gothic (perhaps Visigothic) auxiliaries, Stilicho at length succeeded in forcing all that remained of that mighty host to encamp on one rough and barren chain of mountains near to Faesulae, and probably within sight of the then tiny town of Florentia.42

defeated and slain. Without incurring any of the risks of battle, the Roman army, 'eating, drinking, sporting' (says Orosius), for some days kept watch over 200,000 starving men, till at last Radagaisus gave up the game, and tried to steal away from his camp. He fell into the hands of the Roman soldiery, was kept prisoner for a little time — perhaps with some thought of his decking the triumph of Consul Stilicho — and then put to death.

His followers sold for slaves. His unhappy followers were sold for an aureus (about twelve shillings sterling) apiece, like the poorest cattle; but owing to the privations which they had endured, they died off so fast that the purchasers (as Orosius tells us with grim satisfaction) took no gain of money, having to spend on the burial of their captives the money which they had grudged for their purchase. And thus ended the invasion of Radagaisus.43


The Author's Notes:

1 The following notice is founded on the elaborate paper by Oswald Holder-Egger in the Neues Archiv for 1876.

2 No. II in Roncalli's Collection (I.519‑675).

3 It is therefore not reprinted by Roncalli, but he gives the interpolations in italic type.

4 So called as having been found at Augsburg (Augusta Vindelicorum). It is sometimes also referred to as Canisianum from its first editor, or Ulricianum from the monastery in which it was deposited.

5 Die Ravennatische Fasten.

6 Not Lamego, as stated in the first edition. See Mrs. Ward's article in Dictionary of Christian Biography.

7 In the heading of the Chronicles the author is called 'Comes, Vir Clarissimus.' Cassiodorus (Inst. Div. Litt. xvii) tells us that he was Illyricianus. Was he 'Comes Commerciorum' or 'Comes Metallorum per Illyricum'? Both offices are mentioned in the Notitia (Oriens xiii).

8 'Orientale tantum secutus imperium.'

9 Jordanes, De Reb. Get. cap. xxix: 'Et sumpto exercitu, per Pannonias Stilicone et Aureliano consulibus et per Sirmium dextro latere quasi viris vacuam intravit Italiam.' Compare Claudian, De Bello Getico, 281‑288, where Stilicho distinctly asserts that the successes of Theodosius over Maximus and Eugenius had taught Alaric the way into Italy.

10 Claudian, De Bello Getico, 562‑3:

'Deploratumque Timavo

Vulnus et Alpinum gladiis abolete pudorem.'

Stilicho speaks and urges his soldiers to avenge the defeat by the Timavus. The 'Fontes Timavi' are about ten miles east of Aquileia. In Claudians poetical language any battle fought near Aquileia would answer this description.

11 'Nullo penitus obsistente ad pontem applicuit Candidiani qui tertio milliario ab urbe erat regia Ravennate.' Jordanes, De Reb. Get. xxix. This siege of Ravenna is in the highest degree conjectural. It rests only on the authority of Jordanes, whose account of Alaric's wars in Italy is chaos itself.

12 Prosperi Aquitani Chronicon: 'Stilicone et Aureliano Consulibus [400] Gothi Italiam, Alarico et Rhadagaiso ducibus, ingressi.' M. A. Cassiodori Chronicon: 'Stilicho et Aurelianus. His Consulibus Gothi, Halarico et Radagaiso regibus, ingrediuntur Italiam.'

13 Compare Claudian, De Bello Getico, 279‑280:

'Irrupere Getae, nostras dum Rhaetia vires

Occupat atque alio desudant Marte cohortes.'

14 'Aut moenia vindicis Astae.' Claudian, De VI Consulatu Honorii, 203. I incline to the conjecture that it was in Milan, not at Asti, that the 'obsessi Principis nefas' (De Bello Getico, 561) occurred.

15 At Milan, that is, rather than in Rome. It seems to me that lines 205‑313 of the De Bello Getico contain nothing necessarily applicable to Rome, and probably describe the feelings of the entourage of Honorius at Milan. Lines 450‑480, on the other hand (containing the passage 'Emicuit Stilichonis apex et cognita fulsit Canities') are entirely and emphatically Roman.

16 De Bello Getico, 348‑362.

17 This we are expressly told by Claudian (De Bello Getico, 416‑8):

'Venit et extremis legio praetenta Britannia

Quae Scoto dat frena truci, ferroque notatas

Perlegit exsangues Picto moriente figuras.'

It is true that the mention of service against the Picts and Scots would have led us to think rather of the Sixth Legion, stationed at York, than of the Twentieth, at Chester. It is quite clear, however, that the Sixth (and Second) remained in Britain till a later period than this, and it is probable that the Twentieth had been removed from the now comparatively secure Western frontier, and may have been engaged in Caledonian warfare. Nor are expressions of this kind in a rhetorical poet like Claudian to be construed too literally. It is interesting to connect his word 'praetenta' with the 'vigiliae et praetenturae' (garrisons and outposts) with which, as Ammianus tells us (XXVIII.3.7), Theodosius Senior guarded this same British frontier. The fact that the Twentieth Legion nowhere appears in the Notitia is used with much apparent probability as an argument for assigning the date of that work to this very year 402 (or 403) when the Legion had been withdrawn from service in Britain, but before it had been permanently enrolled among the Italian forces. See J. Hodgson Hinde's History of Northumberland, p19.

18 Pertinax the Roman emperor was born within sight of Pollentia and, together with his father, carried on either an earthenware manufactory or a timber business at that place. In this obscure calling he probably learned those habits of frugality and strictness of life which, when he ascended the throne after the death of Commodus, made him at once dear to all good citizens and hateful to the Praetorian guards by whom he was soon murdered.

Thayer's Note: For Pertinax' birthplace, the citations, etc. — sources vary, of course — see my note to Historia Augusta, Pertinax 1.2.

19 Claudian says Deos. On account of the clearly established fact of Alaric's profession of Christianity, I have used monotheistic language.

'Hortantes his adde Deos: non somnia nobis

Non volucres; sed clara palam vos edita luco est

Rumpe omnes Alarice moras. Hoc impiger anno

Alpibus Italiae ruptis, penetrabis ad Urbem.'

De Bello Getico, 544‑547.

20 According to Tillemont (Hist. des Empereurs, V.530), the name of this river is preserved in the modern Borbo, a stream between Asti and Pollenzo.

Thayer's Note: I very much doubt it. bor(b) is an old attested Gaulish root meaning mud, muddy (often hot and bubbling), with its associated divinity of burbling springs, Borvo, named in several extant ancient votive inscriptions. Several hundred rivers and places throughout France owe their names to the root (among them Bourbon, by the way), as well as a few in Italy, mostly in Piemonte, as here, and Liguria: as for example the several rivers all known as Bormida; and the Borbo is in fact a very small stream flowing into the Bormida di Spigno.

21 L'Art de vérifier les Dates, p9.

22 It is not quite clear that Stilicho himself was present at the battle, though Claudian seems to assert it positively. The name of Saulus is not mentioned by Claudian, but there can be little doubt that he is the 'Alanus' described in the De Bello Getico, 580‑590.

23 Claudian, in his De Bello Getico, 625‑632, seems to wish us to understand that Alaric's wife was carried captive without distinctly asserting it. In the De Sexto Consulatu Honorii, 297‑8, he makes Alaric say more plainly —

'Sed pignora nobis

Romanus, carasque nurus, praedamque tenebat.'

In the first passage the female impatience of the general's wife for the acquisition of slaves and necklaces makes us enquire whether the poet had read the words of the mother of Sisera as imagined in Judges v.28‑30: 'Have they not sped? have they not divided the prey; to every man a damsel or two; to Sisera a prey of divers colours, a prey of divers colours of needlework, of divers colours of needlework on both sides, meet for the necks of them that take the spoil?'

24 Claudian, De VI Cons. Honorii, 298.

25 Both Gibbon (vol. IV p38, ed. Smith) and Aschbach (p75) speak of Alaric as still contemplating a march on Rome after the battle of Pollentia. I have not been able to find the authority for this statement either in Claudian or elsewhere.

26 'Taceo de Alarico rege cum Gothis suis saepe victo saepe concluso semperque dimisso' (VII.37).

27

'Erret et extremos alter scrutetur Iberos,

Plus habet hic vitae, plus habet ille viae.'

28 The old walls of Servius Tullius were now quite outgrown by the City.

29 Claudian, De Bello Getico, 47‑49.

30 Ib. 458‑462.

31 An inscription described by Gruter, which commemorated 'the perpetual subjugation of the Gothic nation' ('Getarum nationem in omne aevum domitam'), if genuine, is probably to be referred to this triumphal entry of Honorius into Rome.

32 Theodoret in his Ecclesiastical History (V.26) relates this story. As he was seventeen years old when Honorius visited Rome, he is entitled to the full authority of a contemporary: though not of an eye‑witness, as he was a citizen of Antioch. Honorius' presence fixes the event to the year 404. The few dry lines of Theodoret have been expanded by Sydney Dobell into one of the finest passages in 'The Roman' — with all its faults certainly a noble poem. (See Scene viii.)

Thayer's Note: More generally, Theodoret is the sole source of the story, and everyone expands on it in various directions, and more or less fancifully; including, it will be noted, Hodgkin.

33 In the Preface to the De Bello Getico, 7, 8.

34 An inscription of very doubtful genuineness, said to have been discovered at Rome, informs us that this statue was erected in the Forum of Trajan, and that the poet held at that time the offices of Tribune and Notary, and was entitled to be addressed as Clarissimus. This inscription is recorded by Gruter, but rests on the sole authority of Pomponius Laetus, a Renaissance scholar ('vidit Pomponius Laetus').

Thayer's Note: The inscription seems to have survived — or at any rate there exists an inscription, now in Naples, in honor of the clarissimus Claudian and referencing his statue in the Forum of Trajan. For a transcription and other details, see Platnauer's introduction to the L. C. L. edition of Claudian, p. xii, note.

35 Had the poem entitled De Secundo Consulatu Stilichonis been correctly named, the poetical career of Claudian would have been brought down to 405. But there cannot be a shadow of a doubt that this is really a third poem on Stilicho's First Consulship. It has been attempted to extract some information as to the end of Claudian's life from a melancholy and most humiliating letter addressed to 'Hadrianus, Prefect of the Palace,' in which the Poet describes himself as utterly crushed, and begs his powerful antagonist to trample no longer on so mean a foe. A certain Hadrianus was Praefectus Praetorio in 405, and also in 416. But (1) the MSS. greatly vary as to the heading of this epistle, some even calling it Deprecatio ad Stilichonem; (2) there is nothing to connect it with the latter rather than the earlier part of Claudian's career; and (3) the whole piece sounds more like banter than earnest; and, in short, is too unsubstantial for the edifice which some have sought to erect upon it. Had Claudian lived at Rome up to the fall of Stilicho (408), it would be passing strange that nothing from his pen as to the exciting events between 404 and 408 should have been preserved.

36 Zosimus, V.26; confirmed by Sozomen, VIII.25. Greek English

37 The theory of the Sclavonic origin of Radagaisus is now generally abandoned.

38 'Radagaisus, omnium antiquorum praesentiumque hostium longe immanissimus.' Orosius, VII.37.

39 The identification of Christianity with atheism is a commonplace with the Emperor Julian and other Pagan writers.

40 Both Augustin and Orosius dwell with great emphasis on the recrudescence of Paganism at the approach of Radagaisus.

41 Zosimus, V.26.

42 Catiline was surrounded and defeated near the same spot by the armies of the Republic.

43 In a rather obscure passage 'Tiro' seems to assert that it was only one third of the host of Radagaisus that was destroyed by Stilicho. Hence some writers have suggested that the invaders of Gaul, who will be spoken of in the next chapter, consisted of the two‑thirds who escaped. But there is nothing in the authorities to justify this assertion, nor is it in itself very probable.


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